Mushtaq Hurra

Where Are The Winter Tutorials of Last Year?

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Though winter is known for its chills and harshness but it adds a lot to the natural beauty of Kashmir valley. The unprecedented cold climate cripples people and forces them to stay indoors during the coldest season of the year. Every year, authorities here announce the closure of schools with the onset of winter in the first week of December.

Closure of schools during winters becomes inevitable here given the very low temperatures and poor infrastructure of our schools which hinders the continuity of academic activities because these institutions San heating arrangements. Had our schools been equipped with proper heating arrangements, the long winter breaks could have been avoided.

That is not the case here and a cursory look at the scenario suggests that it will take us hundreds of years to develop our institutions on those lines. If authorities are really sincere enough to elevate our educational standards then such steps and measures should be kept in pipeline implementation.

Traditionally, Kashmir parents would arrange tutors for their children to overcome the academic deficit of winters. Some two decades back, winter tuition was preferably carried out in the homes of teachers or qualified unemployed youth. But, now, the concept of private coaching centers has revolutionized the concept of winter tuition.

Winter coaching has become a big industry in our valley. I won’t talk here about the role and contribution of these coaching centers but I would definitely talk about low access of poor children to these centers. Authorities had probably recognized the fact, and winter tutorials were made operational at selective schools, particularly during the last winter. The move of authorities was hailed by one and all, particularly by the parents of the poor children.

Government school teachers were deputed to teach at these centers which had been instrumental in the academic prosperity of the student community. Last year,  I was part of such a winter tutorial where many hundred students of our own village and the children of adjacent of villages were taken care off.It had minimized the academic deficit of winters in our schools.

This winter, all the parents and children were waiting for such centers to be made operational. Many parents were in close touch with me for the winter tutoring of their wards. Even I too was anticipating an order in this regard but the authorities have either linked the future of our children with unemployment or with the additional remuneration of teachers deputed at these centers. Bizarre and tragic!

The incumbent authorities should have appreciated and acknowledged the teachers deputed at these centers. Remuneration should have been increased. Even authorities could have made it mandatory for teachers to work in these centers.

No, the case is not so. Teachers have been removed from the assignment. The children of living on the margins are waiting for a compassionate direction from authorities but their wish will remain a wish only. Authorities have, of late, decided to run a few coaching centers in some higher secondary schools but to the utter resentment and surprise of parents these centers are yet to be made functional. One-third of the vacations is over. There is no clue of the people who are supposed to teach in these centers. The proposed centre  at higher secondary school Naidkhai is just a Kilometer away from my residence, and believe me, there is no one to teach the children. Many children from my own neighborhood are repeatedly asking me if the said center will be made functional or not.

I can’t reply them with authority. I wonder if authorities are really sincere enough to elevate our educational standards. I pity the plight of these children who are unconsciously wasting their precious time, playing with glass pebbles or marbles in the streets and alleys of villages. These children are supposed to assume the chairs of teachers, engineers and doctor of our nation. Who is jeopardizing the future of these children and the collective future of our society? Let people open their eyes.

Let people at the helm of affairs revisit their plans and policies. Don’t link the education of children with unemployment or money. Let parents know that teachers are hapless to impart the education to their children.

After vacations, the teachers are blamed for all the mess in the department. When children remain out of touch with their books, how can they do well after the reopening of the schools in March? Let authorities persuade teachers to teach at these centers and I am sure there are many who shall come forward, including myself.

The writer is a Teacher, Columnist, Poet, Orator and Social activist.He can be reached at [email protected]

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